Sunday, August 22, 2010


Oliver and I headed to Golgulsa, a Buddhist temple in North Gyeongsang Province, for a weekend temple-stay program. The temple, located 20 km east of Gyeongju, was built by Saint Gwang Yu and a group of Buddhist monks from India in the 6th century.

The weekend program in which we participated focused on meditation, yoga, temple food and seonmudo (선무도 - 禪武道), a Korean seon (zen) martial art. It also included tea ceremonies, hiking and archery.

The adventure begins.

One train station closer to Nirvana

Front gate of Golgulsa Temple

One of the dormitories

We were woken up at 4 AM to meditate here until the sun rose.

Seonmudo center


Meditation room

Neat dancheong

Lots of gold

Buddha carved into the mountain peak

I was surprised by the number of foreigners at the temple-stay program; of the 30-some weekend participants, over half were European. The largest group was from Germany—there were more German speakers than native English speakers—and there were also a handful of Frenchmen and Americans.

I think for many of them, as for me, the temple-stay was not about anything religious—we couldn't understand most of the esoteric explanations anyway—as much as it was about relaxation, vigorous exercise, reflection and interest in traditional Korean culture.

Did I mention that our instructor was a friendly Norwegian fellow who spoke Korean more fluently than I do?